Written by: Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
Publication Date: October 10th, 2013
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Link to Purchase
Despite only being around for only a century, the art of film has become the single most lucrative and saturated medium in the world. Countless films come out every day, from massive blockbusters like Avengers and Star Wars to small budget classics like Saw and The Evil Dead. And as you would expect, many of these films are really bad. Some of these poor films are simply viewed and forgotten just as quickly as they came. But there are some that last the test of time, some that gain cult classics and remain in the public eye for years.
King among these is Tommy Wiseau’s beloved and hilarious catastrophe: The Room.
Releasing in 2003, this movie was a complete commercial disaster. Don’t believe me? The budget for the film was six million dollars. It only made $1,800 in the box office and was pulled off of the big screen after two weeks. Luckily for Tommy Wiseau, two weeks was enough for it to gain a cult following.
Ten years passed, and the Room became one of the most iconic movies ever made. When people talk about movies under the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, everyone mentions The Room first and foremost. To this day, fan screenings are being held in theaters across the globe, and thousands of fans attend with plastic spoons and costumes in tow.
But more fascinating than The Room itself was the story behind it. More specifically, the story behind the two stars of the show and long time friends: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Luckily, in 2013, light was shed on that story thanks to the book of today’s discussion: The Disaster Artist.
Based on the true story behind the making of the infamous cult classic, The Disaster Artist stars Greg Sestero, better known as Mark from The Room, and his bizarre but inspiring journey with his oddball of a friend Tommy Wiseau. While the story does take place from Greg’s perspective of the events, it’s clear that the main character in the majority of the story’s events is Tommy himself.
The story is very cleverly written, and the combined voices of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell (who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his involvement, by the way) is excellent. The two give just enough detail to paint a clear picture of what’s going on without going into excessive detail. This style is made even stronger by the fact that it’s a true story; if this were a work of fiction that took place in a fictional world, the two would need to spend more time on details, which wouldn’t go well with their style of writing.
In terms of voice, this book is an easy A+. It’s clear, concise, and easy to follow all the way through. The two authors paint a perfect picture, so it always feels like you’re right next to Greg and Tommy on their journey through life and the production of The Room. They know when to sprinkle in some clever comedy through the narration, and they use similar tricks to create drama and emotion.
The plot itself is also perfectly paced. It has an ebb and flow to it: one chapter would focus on Greg and Tommy’s different interactions before the making of the Room, from their meeting all the way up to the two of them agreeing to make the movie together. Then the next would focus on a different day of production and shed light on the mysterious production of the film itself. Each chapter opens strongly, immediately catching the reader’s interest in what’s going to happen, and they have spectacularly strong closing lines. Each one feels like a small story in this larger tale between two friends, and it’s incredibly satisfying to read because of it.
In terms of characters, it’s kind of hard to judge this one. Seeing as, you know, the characters are all real people. That being said, the people involved in this story are all very well portrayed in this book. It’s clear that Greg went through a lot of trouble to make them feel real and as close to the real person as possible, from their warm smiles to their tendency to flirt or joke around.
This is especially true for Tommy. His quirky tendencies, rude and abrasive personality, and even his mysterious accent are all represented perfectly in the book. If you’ve seen The Room as many times as I have (don’t you fucking judge me, I love bad movies) then you may very well hear all of his lines in his real life voice. This isn’t just because it’s permeated your skull (though in my case, it definitely has), it’s because of how well Tommy is portrayed in the novel.
In terms of narrative, this book is fantastic. The story on display is incredibly interesting, even if you aren’t a fan of The Room. It’s paced incredibly well, and it gives the perfect amount of detail to paint a clear picture without ever droning on for far too long. It’s incredibly well written, and it’s certainly worth a read.
The book itself is also very nice. The pages are light, sturdy and just thick enough to handle easily without fear of accidental folds. The book fits nicely in your hands, making it easy to carry while you read, and it’s light weight makes it easy to hold it for prolonged periods of time. It’s also very well balanced, making it easy to read the front and back few chapters without having to press down against the massive weight of the other side.
In terms of physical quality, this book is an easy winner. It feels nice, it’s easy to read, and the pages are of extremely high quality. Combine that with the excellent story and powerful creative voice of the two authors, and you’ve got an absolutely fantastic novel that I’d recommend any day.
If you love The Room and want to know more about it, give this book a read. If you want to read a gripping drama based on a real story, absolutely check this one out. It’s a fantastic novel, and I have no doubt that I’ll be coming back to it for years to come.
Much like the movie that it stemmed from, now that I think about it..